…insights from entrepreneurs in the food industry in Nigeria

Ep 81 – A chef, a food writer and a restaurant consultant – Bukola Arowosafe The triple threat


With so much knowledge of the Food Industry Bukola of Guava Hospitality brought her A game on this podcast. I was especially impressed with how she broke complex ideas down into simple to understand nuggets, i found myself agreeing and taking notes. This is a must listen to podcast. One of my favorite episodes.

On today’s show we have Bukola Arowosafe. She is a restaurant consultant, food writer and a Chef. Her first degree is in microbiology and she went on to do her masters in International Hotel Management. She has been in the Hospitality Industry for over ten years now. She started her own private catering business about four years ago.

“Hospitality is not the most lucrative business anywhere in the world. It is not the highest paying job. People go into hospitality because it is more like a calling because you are basically serving people. Your job is to make people that come to you happy, make them feel good. Your job is to make them comfortable at your hotel or restaurant”

Everything related to hospitality is where she is particularly interested in. She has a passion and appetite for developing and shaping the food and beverage sector. “there is still so much work to be done in terms of service, menu, staffing and more”

In a few years from now a restaurant might pop up but now her energy is put into building the industry

The hospitality service in Nigeria  is a moving industry which is growing but still very much in its infant stage. Reason being, when one looks at different aspect of the industry especially service, a lot can be done.

A lot can be done in terms of skilled workforce, HR, qualified personnel, labour laws and more even though the industry is still evolving. The growth seen so far will stagger a bit due to the effect of COVID 19 but the industry is one that will surely bounce back when things get back to normal, a lot of people have embraced the dining out culture so food and beverage would always be a big part of hospitality.

The culture of hospitality has to change for the Nigerian standard as there is always a Nigerian way of doing things. Each country or nation should have their own identity when it comes to hospitality. One needs to be able to give one’s customer some basic comfort, service or level of hospitality. Some restaurant owners in Nigeria go as far as employing an expatriate or a non Nigeria because they believe they are coming from countries where the level of hospitality is more advance and they are bringing in more experience.

A lot of hotel or restaurant owners are absolutely clueless as to what hospitality is about which is why their business struggle.

An absentee owner or a no knowledge owner is not a formula for success. A compassionate leader who gets his hands dirty once in a while would be perceived by people as a visionary leader and people would want to associate with the brand because he or she has demonstrated a level of leadership.

People often times miss out on the point of setting up a restaurant. You are there because you are meant to serve good food to people. Some restaurants go as far as having many foreign dishes on their menu. The thing is you are more sustainable as a business when you do local foods, source locally and keep it simple. For most businesses, you find out you are offering the same products but how you stay in business is through building customer loyalty. Putting in extra touches your competitors are not putting in.

Many hospitality businesses need to build a customer loyalty program where they have their customers coming back to them because they have established some sort of emotional connection with them. For example, there are so many airlines, hotels and restaurants and there are people that use same airline, same hotel and dine in same restaurant whenever they travel. This is because there is already an emotional attachment to the brand. One also needs to be really creative with one’s menu, always listen to what the customers want. With a good branding one can set one’s business aside from the competition when your branding / packaging is creative.  The Era we are in at the moment is the information era where everyone has access to information. A serious food business needs to be active on its social media channels especially Instagram. Make it more engaging with story telling and not leave it static. Common trends noticed in the food businesses across Lagos : a lot of food restaurants now offer delivery, a lot of them now do food  trays.

Virtual kitchens in Nigeria are here to stay for a long term, the market will be clearly segmented because small kitchens have their own advantages and disadvantages. Everyone getting into food business will have to clearly identify their market. There are benefits to running a home kitchen and also the downside. No matter what your market is, you also need to be on trend, continue to evolve, listen to what your customers want and keep adapting to changes as they come.

Take way points :

1. The hospitality business in Nigeria is still evolving and growing.

2. A lot still needs to done in terms of skilled workforce in the hospitality business.

3. Owning a private or virtual kitchen allows you to be flexible with your menu.

4. Being a visionary leader allows people to associate with you and your brand.

5. Your business is more sustainable when you source for goods locally and keep everything simple.

6. Put in extra touches your competitors are not putting in.

7. Be creative with your menu

8. Always look out for your customer’s feedback and listen to what your customers want.

9. An absent business owner or a no knowledge owner is not a formula for success.

10. Always be on trend and adapt to changes as they come.

Time Stamps


[00:00:37] Intro.
[00:01:34] Guest intro.
[00:02:34] Why private catering?
[00:04:04] passion for food or passion for business?
[00:06:45] The private kitchen company.
[00:10:06] Hospitality service in Nigeria.
[00:28:33] The culture of Nigeria and the hospitality business.
[00:33:00] Building the menu.
[00:37:20] Making sure you stand out.
[00:40:00] What motivates you?
[01:15:40] Virtual kitchen.
[01:28:25] Outro.

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